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Find your favorite solar eclipse angle with AGFC

BY Jeff Williams

ON 03-26-2024

total solar eclipse arkansas wildlife

When the moon slips between Earth and the sun April 8, six of the nine Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature centers will be in the path of a total solar eclipse.

“We’ll have 2 minutes, 42 seconds of totality at our site,” Ken Forman, an educator at Fred Berry Crooked Creek Nature Center near Yellville, said. The center in Marion County is almost 15 miles east of the western edge of the totality path.

Draw a line across Arkansas from just southeast of Texarkana to a little west of Blytheville and another from Fort Smith to Bull Shoals Lake. People between those two boundaries, which are 115 miles apart, will experience a total eclipse as the moon’s shadow moves from southwest to northeast.

For an idea of when all this is going on, a partial eclipse will begin at Foreman in southwestern Arkansas at 12:29 p.m.; a total eclipse will begin at 1:45:55 p.m. At Piggott, in the northeastern corner of the state, a partial eclipse will start at 12:39 p.m. and will become total at 1:56:40 p.m.

Forman says the nature center at Yellville, which features almost three miles of frontage on Crooked Creek, has plenty of space for people to enjoy the show. Totality will begin at about 1:53 p.m.

“There will be a shuttle moving people from the parking area to our open, grassy fields,” Forman said. “We invite families to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the facilities – hiking trails, archery range, creek fishing.”

The first 500 visitors will receive free, tested and certified solar viewing glasses or filters.

“We’ll have crafts for the first 100 kids – making a lanyard for their solar viewing filter,” Forman said. “The lanyard will include UV-reactive beads that will change color before, during and after the eclipse.”

Visitors will be able to safely see sunspots and watch the edge of the moon as it moves across the sun.

“There will be several stations set up for watching the rare phenomenon known as solar eclipse shadow snakes,” Forman said. “These occur during most total eclipses but are often overlooked in light of other things happening.”

Educators will be on hand to explain how eclipses affect wildlife behavior, how the temperature changes and something called the 360-degree sunset. Photography experts also will help answer questions and give advice.

“Shadows will become crisp and high contrast (during the eclipse),” Forman said. “Some people experience odd but perfectly normal sensations of vertigo during the eclipse. Winds may suddenly shift in direction and intensity. All of this is quite unlike anything else on the planet. If you’ve never experienced a total solar eclipse, then you owe it to yourself to see this one.”

Cody Walker, manager of Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro, says a full day of events is planned.

“We’ll have special animal programs, facts about the eclipse and unique photo opportunities during this once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse,” Walker said. “We will be tracking the time as we wait for the moon to fully cover the view of the sun. Safety viewing glasses will be available while supplies last, as well as supplies for a special do-it-yourself craft station set up in the Discovery Room. Admission is free and registration is not required.”

Maximum totality in Jonesboro, which will last 2 minutes, 26 seconds, will begin at 1:55:33 p.m.

Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center in Hempstead County has scheduled a lineup that includes a fishing derby, 9-11 a.m.; archery from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.; a demonstration of fish cooking during 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; and canoeing, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

There’s a good chance more activities will be added.

Totality will last 2 minutes, 2 seconds, beginning at 1:51:50 p.m.

Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock, within rock-throwing distance of the Museum of Discovery, will feature programs that explain how animals react to fire, flood, weather changes and events such as eclipses.

A partial eclipse in Little Rock will begin at 12:33 p.m. Totality, which will last 2 minutes, 20 seconds, will begin at 1:51:24 p.m. and peak at 1:52:51 p.m. The partial eclipse will last until 3:11 p.m.

Creature features (programs about various animals) will begin at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and fish feeding in the large aquarium will start at 2:30 p.m.

“The theater will be showing films all day and the scavenger hunt will be available all day,” Lauren Marshall, an educator at the center, said. “There will also be a special eclipse-themed goose chase hunt, which can be accessed on cell phones.”

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith, barely inside the totality path, also has special attractions. Totality will last 28 seconds, starting at 1:49:56 p.m.

Educator Danielle Simmons says the celebration will run from noon until 4 p.m.

“We’ll have snacks and refreshments for those wanting to enjoy the eclipse at the center,” Simmons said. “Starting at 12:30 p.m., we’ll lead a hike around Wells Lake as the eclipse begins.”

Just show up; registration is not required.

Ponca Nature Center in Newton County, known for its elk displays, will have eclipse glasses for sale.

Because the center lies only about a mile inside the western edge of the path of totality, viewers will see the Bailey’s Beads effect, bright spots around the moon’s silhouette caused by lunar topography. The effect is named for Francis Bailey, an English astronomer.

The next solar eclipse in North America will happen in 2044 and the next one in Arkansas will be in 2045. Arkansas has been in the path of totality twice before, 1834 and 1918.

Let’s hope for a sunny day.


This article is a feature in the March/April issue of Arkansas Wildlife Magazine. The magazine is published every two months and includes the AGFC’s July-to-July calendar issue. Not a subscriber? Stop missing out and order at





The total solar eclipse April 8 may look something like this photo illustration of Elephant Head on the Buffalo River.

The April 8 solar eclipse will be total within the yellow area, and will move from southwest to northeast. Map courtesy of ARDOT.

Arkansas State Parks has solar eclipse glasses available at some of its visitors centers. Photo by Mike Wintroath.

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